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United Airlines sets to buy 100 new electric planes


United Airlines is investing in 100 Heart Aerospace ES-19 jets, a 19-seat electric aircraft with the potential to revolutionize regional air travel by the end of the decade.

After long-haul supersonics by 2029, and in the shorter term, the acquisition for medium-haul of 270 re-engineered single-aisle aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, the American company is tackling short-haul. United Airlines Ventures (UAV) announced on July 13, 2021 its association with Mesa Airlines (based at Phoenix-Sky Harbor airport) and Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Mesa Airlines to invest in the aircraft start-up Electric Heart Aerospace.

The latter is developing the ES-19, a 19-seat electric aircraft that « has the potential to fly customers up to 250 miles » before the end of this decade. In addition to the UAV investment, United Airlines has « conditionally agreed » to purchase 100 ES-19 aircraft, « once the aircraft meets safety, business and operational requirements. » Mesa Airlines, United’s key strategic partner in bringing electric aircraft into commercial service, has also agreed to add 100 ES-19 aircraft to its fleet, « subject to similar requirements. » UAV and BEV are among the early investors in Heart Aerospace, demonstrating their confidence in Heart’s design and creating the potential to accelerate the introduction of the ES-19 to the market as early as 2026.

By using electric motors instead of jet engines, and batteries instead of jet fuel, the ES-19 aircraft will have no operational emissions, the Star Alliance company said in a statement. The ES-19 could operate on « more than 100 of United’s regional routes from most of its hubs. » Some of these routes include, for example, a line from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Purdue University (LAF), or the one connecting San Francisco (SFO) to Modesto City-County (MOD).

“Breakthrough Energy Ventures is the leading voice of investors supporting the creation of clean energy technologies. We share their point of view that we need to create companies that have real potential to change how industries work and in our case, that means investing in companies like Heart Aerospace that are developing a viable powerliner, ”he said. said Michael Leskinen, vice president of corporate development and investor relations at United, as well as president of UAV. “We recognize that customers want to take ownership of their own carbon footprint even more. We are proud to partner with Mesa Air Group to bring electric aircraft to our customers sooner than any other US airliner. Longtime Mesa CEO Jonathan Ornstein has demonstrated visionary leadership in electric-powered flight.  »

According to Carmichael Roberts, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, aviation “is a vital part of our global economy. At the same time, it is a major source of carbon emissions and one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize « . He believes electric planes can « be revolutionary in reducing industrial emissions and enabling low-cost, quiet and clean regional travel on a large scale. » As battery technology improves, larger planes « should become viable, but we are not going to wait to start the journey, » he added. « This is why we are eager to begin our work with Heart Aerospace so that together we can increase the availability of electric airliners and use them for passenger flights over the next five years. »

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